Corporate social responsibility was one of the most consequential business trends of the twentieth century. Having spent decades burnishing reputations as both great places to work and generous philanthropists, large corporations suddenly abandoned their commitment to their communities and employees during the 1980s and 1990s, indicated by declining job security, health insurance, and corporate giving.
Douglas M. Eichar argues that for most of the twentieth century, the benevolence of large corporations functioned to stave off government regulations and unions, as corporations voluntarily adopted more progressive workplace practices or made philanthropic contributions. Eichar contends that as governmental and union threats to managerial prerogatives withered toward the century's end, so did corporate social responsibility. Today, with shareholder value as their beacon, large corporations have shred their social contract with their employees, decimated unions, avoided taxes, and engaged in all manner of risky practices and corrupt politics.
This book is the first to cover the entire history of twentieth-century corporate social responsibility. It provides a valuable perspective from which to revisit the debate concerning the public purpose of large corporations. It also offers new ideas that may transform the public debate about regulating larger corporations.
Douglas M. Eichar (University of Hartford USA)
Country of Publication:
30 August 2015
Preface 1 Introduction 2The End of the Nineteenth Century: Regulatory Pathways are Set 3 Progressives Attempt to Tame the Beast 4 The 1920s: Cooperation is Key 5 The Great Depression: Everything Changes, But Remains the Same 6 The Postwar Triumph of America's Peculiar Regulatory Structure 7 The 1970s: The Peak of America's Regulatory Structure 8 The Decline of Corporate Social Responsibility 9 Can the Beast Be Re-Tethered? Bibliography Index
Douglas M. Eichar is an Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology and Criminal Justice at the University of Hartford, USA.
Reviews for The Rise and Fall of Corporate Social Responsibility
Corporations talk about 'social responsibility' less and less, according to Douglas Eichar's informed and timely new book, and they appear to pursue it even more infrequently. A once-regnant ideal--that corporations were social partners in the production of prosperity, not solo players--has become a forgotten and mostly neglected promise. If you want to know why, read this book. --Jacob Hacker, Director, Institution for Social and Policy Studies, Yale University, and co-author of American Amnesia: How the War on Government Led Us to Forget What Made America Prosper Through sophisticated analysis, copious evidence, and deep historical grounding, Eichar argues persuasively that corporate social responsibility is not only inherently limited but indeed a central ideological plank in justifying the expansion of corporate power and domain over the last century. A must read for anyone who wants to understand how corporate social responsibility is actually part of the problem, not the solution, when it comes to protecting society and the environment from corporate harm. --Joel Bakan, author of The Corporation Eichar has written an extremely important book that makes crucial contributions to the expanding literature on corporate social responsibility. He provides a historical account of the strategies employed by corporate America to avoid responsibility for their organizational behaviors and exposes the deep-seated flaws in contemporary regulatory structures that have become increasingly reliant on voluntary adoption of socially responsible corporate practices. --Harland Prechel, author of Big Business and the State